Friday 14 September 2012

The Australian Human Rights Commission has serious concerns that the human rights of asylum seekers sent to Nauru will not be adequately protected.

Following the arrival in Nauru this morning of the first plane load of asylum seekers to be processed there under the Government’s new offshore processing arrangements, Commission President Professor Gillian Triggs said it was still unclear how the new arrangements would work in practice.

“It is not yet clear how the processing arrangements will operate in Nauru so it is not possible to assess how consistent these arrangements will be with Australia’s human rights obligations,” Professor Triggs said.

“There is no information as to how prepared Nauru is to process the claims and it is unclear whether those transferred to Nauru will have access to legal advice.

“And of course, the question still remains as to whether or not Nauru is able to provide effective protection to asylum seekers transferred there.”

Professor Triggs said the Commission was particularly concerned by the views expressed by the Minister for Immigration earlier this week in designating Nauru as a country for the processing of asylum seekers’ claims.

“I am concerned that the Minister has expressed the view that even if the designation of Nauru for regional processing is inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations, he will proceed on the basis that it is, in his view, in Australia’s national interest to do so,” she said.

“This is of grave concern to the Australian Human Rights Commission in light of our mandate to monitor Australia’s compliance with its human rights obligations.”

She said the Commission was also unconvinced that the tent accommodation and facilities on Nauru will be adequate to deal with the range of contingencies that can be expected to arise ranging from the weather and temperature variations through to the needs of women and children, or the needs of those who have experienced torture and trauma.

“It’s essential that a pre-transfer risk and vulnerability assessment be conducted for each individual, and that these consider the specific circumstances and vulnerabilities of each and every individual, in light of Australia’s international obligations,” she said

“We’ve had no indication that such assessments have been performed on those transferred today and call on the Government to conduct such assessments prior to the transfer of any further asylum seekers.”

Media contact: Louise McDermott (02) 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597

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